With The Bear becoming the breakout hit series of the summer, it’s the perfect time for a darkly comic horror movie about a chef torturing the guests at an elaborate dinner. It’s an ideal pairing, a series using the restaurant world to tell a family drama, and a film using haute cuisine to tell a…class allegory? I’m guessing this is going to be about class. Nicholas Hoult has that “rich character everyone is hoping will die within the first ten minutes” vibe. The Menu is from Mark Mylod, a frequent director on Succession, so the whole thing being a class allegory tracks. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy—who recently got married—Nicholas Hoult, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Hong Chau, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo. That is a HELL of a cast.
The film also looks very good and just rocketed up my “to watch” list for TIFF, the birthday line at the end made me laugh out loud. I love a good food parable (if you want to see a really wild and gross one, check out Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet, now available to rent on PVOD platforms). Food, like fashion, is very flexible in the cinematic space, and food, like fashion, comes pre-loaded with societal implications of class and privilege. (Lainey: see my previous post about Brie Larson and Lessons in Chemistry!) thanks to The Bear, food is at the forefront of pop culture right now, but The Menu is really giving me Phantom Thread vibes. That film ended up using food in an unexpected way, in service of a romance tinged with horror. The Menu also has some obvious Parasite connotations, undoubtedly that film’s success caused a flurry of greenlights for other class parables. It will be interesting to see if The Menu ends up being derivative of these other works, or if it can serve its audience something fresh.